The fundamental question of Christianity can be boiled down to this: Do I belong to God and serve Him faithfully or do I belong to the world and serve its lusts faithfully? It is not in dispute that a person cannot serve both (Matt. 6:24), but many in the religious world and even in the church look more like the world and its lusts than we care to admit. Is there a stark contrast between Christians who are “chosen out of the world” and those who are “of the world”? There should be. What are some characteristics of a person “of the world”? The worldly have:
Worry as A Close Companion – Those in the world have nothing save their own strength with which to combat worry. Thus, often, when strength fails, worry becomes a constant companion. What a great comfort to know the Lord’s promise and “three-peated” command in Matthew 6:25-34: “Do not worry.” God’s people may trust in Him no matter what may come.
Obsession with Material Things and Disinterest with the Spiritual Things – The worldly person’s focus is stuff, having more stuff, and then having room to store that stuff. God calls a man with that type of attitude a fool (c.f. Luke 12:16-21). Surely it is foolish to put emphasis on that which is going to be burned up and neglect that which will continue forever (II Pet. 3:10-12; Luke 12:20).
Rejoicing in Wickedness and Mocking of Goodness – This one sounds a lot like what’s on television every day, doesn’t it (Phil. 4:8)? The entertainment industry has made a fortune upon this type of worldliness and so many people think that moral goodness deserves to be mocked. Yet, the law of sowing and reaping still applies and many will regret this type of spiritual diet when it comes time for a harvest (Gal. 6:7-10).
Lost Character for Selfish Gain – Everyday there are stories of people who have lost their integrity for temporary and selfish gain. Their lives have by in large become a spectacle to society, and they will deal with the consequences of their actions. It is no wonder in Christianity that denial of self is the first requirement of following Jesus (Luke 9:23). In denying self, a Christ-like mind and obedience take the lead (Phil. 2:1-11).
Desire for Ease and Avoid Suffering – The path of least resistance is heavily traveled because it is easy (Matt. 7:13-14). No one wants to be caused pain unnecessarily, yet as the Arab proverb goes, “All sunshine makes a desert.”
What a blessing for Christians to know that suffering in godly living produces and refines our character and makes us fit to serve the Lord above (c.f. Rom. 5:3; I Pet. 4:12-14)!